I abuse the WebMD Symptoms Checker feature, and I know this. My eye twitches and I hop onto WebMD, waiting for the Symptoms Checker to tell me I’m having a stroke. The problem is it usually does give me some elaborate and untrue diagnosis, which adds fuel to my paranoid fire. Then I have to call my mom and get her to reassure me that I’m probably fine and maybe I should just take a nap and an Advil and chill out. You can imagine, then, that when the book club I run decided to read Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, which is a book about a person who seemingly starts to lose her mind out of nowhere, I was equal parts horrified, fascinated, and nervous for my own sanity. I ended up finishing the thing in two days.
The story follows Cahalan, who’s a young, seemingly healthy, successful reporter for The New York Post, as her mental and physical well-being begin to spontaneously unravel. Suddenly she’s displaying full-blown signs of schizophrenia, having seizures, and struggling to walk and talk. Specialists work frantically to try to figure out what’s going on.
The story is nothing short of fascinating. One of the most compelling parts is that Cahalan has no memory of this time in her life. She had to interview people, re-read old journals, and use other methods to piece together what happened to her during her descent into a month of madness.
The story is totally true, and whether or not you’re into medical stuff it was a fascinating read. Following along as her symptoms worsened and doctors tried to eliminate possible causes was compelling. It was a quick read, and a really, really good one. Even though it will make you think you may possibly be losing it. Check it out if you’re looking for a compelling, quick, and slightly trippy read.